Netizens around the world were up in arms over US President Donald Trump’s announcement last week that America would leave the historic Paris Climate Accord. Nearly 200 countries had signed the UN-sponsored agreement last year to address issues such as greenhouse gas emissions and tackle global warming.
However, Trump’s decision isn’t as big a worry as some may have thought. America taking a back seat on environmental issues isn’t the end of the world but rather a new dawn.
This is because there a handful of nations, both developing and developed, and organisations who are ready to take the reigns, including China, India, and the European Union.
The biggest beneficiaries could be China and Europe as they work closely together in their new role as world leaders. In a world where populist and anti-globalisation sentiments are becoming more prominent, increased co-operation and the resultant mutual respect can only be a good thing. The two powerhouses have made it clear that they want to focus on energy efficiency and low-emission transportation, with the EU also redoubling their commitment to provide funds to ease tensions in the developing world. India, too, has played its part, scrapping plans to open a coal plant and instead unveiling the world’s largest solar plant last November.
What’s more, the economics of the issue means that the US and world businesses will have no choice but to invest in renewables. The prices of renewables such as solar and wind energy have been steadily declining over the years, and this trend is likely to continue.
It’s likely that US companies involved in green technology will turn to Asia, committing capital and labour to help countries such as India and Indonesia reach their climate goals. This way, Americans will be able to keep abreast of the latest trends, using the growing manufacturing chain in South East Asia to drive the prices of renewables even lower. This would help renewables penetrate the energy market and replace fossil fuels ahead of time in key Asian economies.
There are positive signs within the US as well – programmes already exist at state level that are committed to environmental goals, with Atlanta becoming the most recent city to commit to 100 per cent renewable energy by 2035.
Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin and their merry band of oligarchs may still be caught up in the allure of black gold, but the rest of the world has put on a pair of green-tinted glasses and is determined to forge ahead with indomitable spirit towards a brighter, and more eco-friendly, future.